Pearl Harbor – a #MustSee

“YESTERDAY, December 7, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Library of Congress: Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945. Address to Congress requesting a declaration of war, Dec. 8, 1941

It is hard to believe that the quiet port area of Oahu, known in Hawaiian as “Pu’uloa”or Pearl Harbor, was once the site of one of the most deadliest attacks ever to have occurred on this planet. It was December 7, 1941 – truly a day that will forever be emblazoned in the minds and hearts of many who still grace our world.  One way to be sure that the lessons of this era are not forgotten is to put Pearl Harbor on your #MustSee travel list!

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USS ARIZONA Memorial  (right) Photo: L. Sattler

There are many FAQs about visiting Pearl Harbor on their website. Click here for these.  In addition, I would like to add a few suggestions that may help make your visit easier.

Tip1: GO EARLY!  I mean arrive when the parking lot opens and plan on visiting more than one day, if possible.  I have been three times and at different times of the year.  It can be hot and crowded by noon no matter what month you visit, so I can’t stress enough the importance of arriving early (they open at 7am) and staying until lunch then leaving and coming back another day.  Also, wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot of walking involved if you visit the entire park.

Tip 2:  The actual memorial for the USS Arizona is under renovation due to a crack – thus it is not safe for visitors to actually walk around the memorial.  Instead, there is a very nice movie and boat ride (70 minutes total)  that includes audio commentary of the events of December 7, 1941 – when the Japanese navy  attacked the harbor leaving thousands dead, wounded and much of the US Pacific fleet destroyed.

Tip 3:  The website also advises people of the following if you wish to take the boat and video tour of the USS ARIZONA:

There are three ways to secure the movie/boat tickets to the Memorial:

  1. Two months out, 325 tickets are placed online at recreation.gov. The official National Park Service website for its Parks. Please note there are three choices to choose from in getting these tickets.
  2. Each day at 7:00am Hawaii Standard Time an additional 525 tickets are placed on recreation.gov for the next day’s reservations.
  3. If you were not able to secure your movie/boat tickets for the USS Arizona Memorial online, the National Park Service gives out over 1,300 free walk up tickets each day on a first come, first serviced basis. Be sure to arrive early for these walk up tickets, the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center opens at 7:00am.

Tip 4: Bring a tiny pocketbook / wallet / or  clear bag.  For security reasons, pocketbooks, backpacks, duffels, etc. are NOT allowed and will cost you $5 each if you have to check them in to their storage facility.  The rule of thumb is that if the bag is larger than your hand, it will not be permitted in the park.

The park rangers also advise you NOT to leave valuables in your car as the parking is not secure (although it is FREE to park!)  I learned the second day of my trip to bring a ziplock clear bag and stick my valuables in that followed by a $1.99 tote bag that I bought at the gift shop. Money well spent.

Tip 5:  Watch the movies to see authentic reel footage from World War II. And,  before you venture on your trip  watch their welcome video that you  can find here. 

Tip 6: Ask questions of the many experts and docents that are on the premises. They are a wealth of knowledge and some are related to Pearl Harbor as family members or ex-military.

Tip 7: Buy a Passport  to visit the other ships and submarine in port that are part of the memorial. The USS BOWFIN (submarine) was a great tour and given two thumbs up by my family members. Grab the free audio tape to listen- it comes in several languages.  For those who need captioning or interpreting – please see the information in the chart I found below.

HOW TO MAKE RESERVATIONS – FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum www.Bowfin.org
USS Battleship Missouri Memorial www.USSmissouri.org
Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor www.PacificAviationMuseum.org
USS Arizona Memorial Tours www.PacificHistoricParks.org
Tip 8:  Food and beverage are available for purchase. They are not cheap and I would advise to buy water and then go elsewhere to eat if you want a nice sit-down meal.  Remember, two -half days are better than a long full-day , in my humble opinion.
Tip 9:   Support the memorial park by making a purchase in one of their gift shops. There are a lot of wonderful items available and they make very unique gifts for special occasions.
Tip 10: Kids are welcome, but in all honesty much of the importance of this day may be lost on young children.  I would recommend this park for ages 8 and up unless you just want to show “cool boats and a submarine” to your tots!
Tip 11: Take photos and share the stories about this hallowed site with others.
If you have a tip about visiting Pearl Harbor – please leave in the comment section below. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

All Photos by Louise Sattler

Have you registered for the 2018 #ShakeOut Drill yet?

This is a friendly reminder for ALL of you to register for the 2018 ShakeOut drill! What is the ShakeOut Drill? (And no, it is not a new dance).  The best description comes from the organization that hosts this annual event –  ShakeOut.  Also, below is an explanation from their website with “hyperlinks” to help you learn more.

Many areas of the globe are prone to earthquakes… You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes: at home, at work, at school or even on vacation. Are you prepared to survive and to recover quickly?

Great ShakeOut earthquake drills are an opportunity to practice how to be safer during earthquakes: “Drop, Cover and Hold On.” ShakeOut also has been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to update emergency plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries. <Shakeout.org>

 

So, NOW  is the time to take  TWO MINUTES to register your family   or organization for this all important safety drill.  Remember – some of the worst earthquakes in the United States happen in states like Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia! California and Alaska don’t have the monopoly on earthquake activity in North America!  Please don’t be complacent and think, “It can’t happen here” – because history has proven quite the opposite!

Also, included on the ShakeOut.org  website are some very handy resources for students, teachers and much more.

Click on the bolded and underlined titles below to connect with the direct resource:

Preparedness materials, games, posters and downloads for K-12 :   For Educators and School Officials

For College Faculty and Administrators

For those with Access and Functional Needs

A Sign Language Video   for Earthquake and Tsunami Preparedness

General Information and FAQs about ShakeOut

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Bravo to Amazon’s Multi- Emmy Nominated Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Includes Video Interview)

Amazon’s newest show – The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel has earned 14 Emmy Award nominations! Can you say – WOW!  Quite a feat given that  in recent years the vast majority of  the golden Emmy award  went  to shows airing on Netflix HBO and NBC.

Let’s start with why the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is worthy of all the kudos.  Without a doubt the show is brilliantly written. But, I knew it was going to be a  winner once I discovered that Amy Sherman – Palladino and Daniel Palladino were involved as the creative  geniuses. Their signature snappy and witty scripts are the backbone of this show as it was with their previous break-out winner – the Gilmore Girls.  However, “Maisel” is much more edgy than the Gilmore Girls, which one easily discovers within the first episode.

Let’s break it down even more (SPOILER ALERT).  Set in 1958,  a time when women were expected to cook, clean and look pretty – “Midge” Maisel, played by the outstanding Rachel Brosnahan,  finds herself as a Jewish woman with a cheating husband, Joel (Michael Zegen). He leaves her for an office romance… quite the shocker for Midge.   Bad karma continues as  Joel’s  hopes of a career in comedy are seriously dashed due to his “borrowing” someone else’s material. (The someone being Bob Newhart)  To complicate matters, Midge is no slouch at comedy either, and in fact, is the funnier of the two.  The audience is let in to this little secret as it plays out in one of the funniest scenes filmed for a TV show.

The hilarity of the show also is due to the  doting parents who raised Midge in a comfortable Manhattan lifestyle and their  major dilemma as how to explain “the separation” to the Jewish community.  Actors Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle play Midge’s parents and they are HYSTERICAL.

Also among the superb roster of actors in this production is one who I always have enjoyed watching over the years, actor  Kevin Pollack.  Here he brilliantly portrays  Midge’s soon to be ex-father-in law, Moishe Maisel.  I had an opportunity to interview Kevin on the red carpet of the Oscar gifting suite hosted by  Celebrity Connected .

This is what he had to say about the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and its’ success:

 

 

 

Here’s to the success of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and all involved. Thank you Kevin Pollak for your fun and candor.

 

Learn more about the show via Amazon. Season 1 is now available.

Why Journaling and Creating Scrapbooks Could Result in GREAT Mental Health Benefits! (Includes a Stickii.Club Giveaway!)

 

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go to the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. You will discover yourself.

~Alan Alda

Every year millions of blank and lined paged journal books are sold in the United States. Amazon sells  more than a million books to those wanting to write their musings or organize their thoughts.  Equally as popular is the scrapbooking community. Those who love to mesh photographs, stamping art and stickers together in a bound book for posterity.  I may have a few of these journals or scrapbooks on my shelves or in my drawers –  and by a few I mean twenty or more.

If you are a reader of this blog, then you will know that I am an ardent photographer and love to assemble projects that utilize photos and quotes. (Read a recent article here.)   I am a firm believer that sparking your mental processes through creative outlets is one way to keep yourself challenged and active from your youth through your golden years.

Let’s look at the value of both keeping a journal and scrapbook.

What is Journaling?

Consider journaling a way to plan your current and future life while reflecting on and learning from lesson of your past. A journal is a running diary of your thoughts, dreams and concerns. It also chronicles events and your “take” on what has happened.

A journal is a “safe place” where you can emote your love for another, anger, disappointment or sadness. It is where you can let out your deep seeded grief.  While not a substitute for a trained therapist, a journal is often a tool to help guide you through the tough times in your life.

One of the most common themes among those who journal is to see how problems, once thought unsurmountable, were actually resolved,  leaving the scribe with a much larger understanding and appreciation for having “made it through” and perhaps much better equipped to cope with future challenges.

What is Scrapbooking?

Scrapbooking to me is being able to put in to themed books the milestones of your life of those of your loved ones.  Many parents, especially mom’s, love to keep sweet memorabilia of their babies first year, child’s school years and extra -curricular activities.  I for one have made many scrapbooks when my children were young. Included in these precious memory books are first words, pictures of first steps, locks of hair from the first haircuts and much more.  Being able to fill in the blanks for older children of their first years, is always a nice way to add to bonding experiences between parent and child.

Now that my children are adults, I have “shelved” these lovely books hoping that someday I will show them to their offspring and have some good belly laughs and perhaps smile through nostalgic tears.

There is positive mental health value with both journaling and scrapbooking for all ages.

As an educator, I see the value of offering journaling opportunities in school.  Children can have complicated lives, and what a wonderful way to give them space to write and reflect than a journal.  This avenue for discourse can be quite powerful if  it is an ongoing conversation between a teacher / therapist and child.  Being able to voice concerns, opinions and much more without judgment or having to actually “talk”.

Also, imagine the ability to see your child’s interpretation of their lives through the art of creating a scrapbook.  There are many templates to help a child get started and ways to stir their creativity.  Also, parents – don’t be shy!

Now let’s talk about a fun company that helps enhance your journaling and scrapbook world with their designs – The Stickii Club!

 

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Related: Don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post!

 

Stickii Club is a subscription service that also makes available a la carte stickers to accent your journal and scrapbooking project. I became interested in this start-up company when I met them at a gifting suite and thought that there true to life stickers would make a great addition to creative projects, especially with journaling.  My favorite is the retro ones and travel as I love to put together my photography and utilize these stickers to help compliment the story.  (As you know photography and journaling are my way to experience calm!)

 


 

I had an opportunity to send interview questions to the founder  of  STICKII CLUB , Rita and here is what I learned:

 

Louise: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?:
Rita: I really didn’t want to work for someone else and be boxed into a strict schedule with no flexibility. I have a creative passion and I wanted to pursue that

 


Louise:  Is STICKII CLUB your first venture in to the world of entrepreneurship or are you a veteran in the business world?:
Rita: My first foray into the world of entrepreneurship but it’s taught me so much, I can see myself exploring other business endeavors in the future.

3. What was the catalyst for starting STICKII CLUB and tell us about the company: 
Rita: I’ve always had a love for stickers ever since I was little and dreamed of having my own stationery store. When I graduated I didn’t want to work for a company but had to work – at the same time I discovered subscription box services and decided to create one for stickers. So STICKII (stickers + kawaii {the Japanese word for cute}) was born. The company sends out a pack of stickers and stationery every month but because everyone has different styles, we have 3 selections to choose from every month.

4. Your stickers are more “mature” – meant for those who love to journal or make scrapbooks.  Do you journal daily?: 
Rita: Hah, running the company and creating most of its designs is how I spend most of my time so I don’t journal as much as I used to but our team loves planning & journaling and using stickers to make each entry their own. One of our team members has multiple notebooks for different things, she loves working at a place where the perk is unlimited free stickers for her to play with!

5. Are your products available online and in stores or only online?: 
Rita: For the moment we only sell online through our own website. You can do a subscription or check out our shop for individual sticker sheets and some other fun things.

6. Do you customize for large orders and if so- how much lead time? (Such as a school specific set or a set for a wedding, etc.):
Rita: We never say no to a custom order, it just depends on if the person has the art work in place or needs one of our artists, the order size, the layout, etc. We prefer to have at least a month advance notice at a minimum but we’ve managed to pull off a few miracles before.

7. I work in media, so I am curious – which of the social media platforms are your favorite and get you the most results?: 
Rita: By far, Instagram.  Our service deals in the visual since it’s artistic and a tangible product so Instagram is great at showing the photos and people get excited about what they’re going to receive. Facebook is a close second and we’ve tried other ones but these two get the most results.

8. You are offering a giveaway {SEE BELOW} – what do people need to do to enter to win and when is the last date they can enter?:
Rita:  Please follow us on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK between July 16th and August 18th.  We will announce THREE prized winners:  Grand Prize (7 packs of stickers), 1st Prize (4 packs of stickers) and 2nd prize (3 packs of stickers).  We sadly need to restrict to the United States for entries as we have to ship our prizes.  (The giveaway rules are below.)

9. Any other information you wish for our readers to know?:
Rita: All our packs come in a unique Stickii Storage sticker insert so you can keep your stickers organized and neat. Signing up means you get happiness delivered right to your door every month!

BUT WAIT…. THERE IS MORE!!

SIGN UP IS ONE CLICK AWAY! USE THE PROMO CODE:  LOUISE for $2 off a month’s subscription

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Want to WIN a set of STICKII CLUB stickers? Simply do the following to ENTER the STICKII CLUB GIVEAWAY!:

STEP ONE: FOLLOW ON and LEAVE A COMMENT with the HASHTAG #StickiiClubGiveaway >>> INSTAGRAM

or

FOLLOW ON >>>  FACEBOOK and COMMENT with #STICKIICLUBGIVEAWAY

STEP TWO: BE SURE TO COMMENT ON THIS POST BELOW SO I KNOW TO LOOK FOR YOU!!! 

LASTLY:  Be super groovy if you also signed up for their >>>>  EMAIL. 

 

What will the Stickii Club winners receive??

💥 💥

GRAND PRIZE:  SEVEN PACKS (7) of STICKI CLUB STICKERS! TRIPLE WOW!!!

FIRST PRIZE:  FOUR PACKS (4) of STICKI CLUB STICKERS! DOUBLE WOW!!

SECOND PRIZE: THREE PACKS (3) of STICKI CLUB STICKERS – WOW!

 

THE RU!LES

Winners will be randomly chosen from ALL Entries who either follow on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK between July 16th and August 18th, 2018.  The giveaway winners will be chosen by a random generator on August 19, 2018 of all eligible entrants.  Residents of the United States of America only.  Cannot be related to anyone from Stickii Club nor Louise Sattler. Shipping will be by standard mail.  No substitutions or monetary trade value will be offered. Multiple follows by autobots or fake accounts will result in deletion of entry.

 

DISCLAIMER:  I received promotional product from Stickii.Club.  However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this product and would have written this blog regardless!

Amazon Prime Day(s) Picks for Tech, Travel and Back to School (July 2018 Promo)

 

Let me start with this “disclaimer”…  I shop local when I can because I love to support “Mom and Pop” stores in my own backyard. From  CRAFTED  in San Pedro with their original wares by local artisans to flea markets and local box stores.  But, when I need something fast, not readily available or in bulk, I go to my computer and click on Amazon.  In this blog,  I am going to have a little fun and tell you about my favorite items for tech, travel and back to school as TOMORROW, July 16th,  starts their widely popular AMAZON PRIME DAYS.  This is when they will suggest and make offers on thousands of GREAT DEALS! But, I am throwing my faves in to this “mix”, too!

And, in turn I want to know your favorites – so use the comment section below.  Note, as am Amazon Influencer, I get my “own favorites page” that you will find right below. There are many more items listed on this page than blog space allows and that any proceeds from this page to me go directly to back to the community as I support a wide variety of charities.

Click here for my full Amazon Influencer Page list

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 The KINDLE FIRE

CORD CRUNCHER EAR BUDS      

 

 


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Convenience Kits Women’s Deluxe Travel Set  

Therm- A – Rest Back Pillow

 

I love having all my essential travel products for hygiene in one zipper kit that doubles as a nice bag, too.  There are many different configurations of the Convenience Kits line, so check them all out for one of your faves!

I NEVER leave home for a long trip without this inflatable pillow by Therm-A-Rest!  This product is the envy of everyone who spots it on flights and train rides and wishes they had one, too!



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Teachers this section is for YOU!

 

                                           I LOVE this  ASL set of alphabet stamps by Iconoglyph!

It doesn’t matter if you teach ASL or not, this is a clever way for spelling, literacy and math lessons. Also, students can be creative with artwork and more!

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Tote around all you technology, files and lesson plans with this amazingly comfortable and versatile  Baggalini computer bag!

 

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Now your turn to comment on  your favorite “Must Haves” … Also, thanks to Bitmoji for their clever charicatures.  IMG_7251

 

 

 

 

 

 

psst…links go through my influencer page, however, any proceeds I acquire are donated to charity or through the SMILE charity program. Thank you.

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Creating social media images with your own quotes and photographs.

 

I love quotes. I love photography. Like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich- they are “perfect” when paired together. I am confident that I am not the only one who thinks that the combination of a witty or motivational statement superimposed on a whimsical or lovely photo can make you smile or feel inspired. In fact, social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, have dedicated days that lend themselves to just these type of posts with images –  #MondayMotivation #TuesdayTravel #WednesdayWisdom #TBT (Throw Back Thursday) and more.

Never one to miss an opportunity to showcase my favorite photography, I have embraced creating images with my own or others’ quotes as passionately as I have ingested many a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Related:  Check out this link that “highlights” my “famous quotes”. 

In the social media world there are people who are content creators (people who use their skills to create engaging posts.). There also are people who are known as social media influencers. This second group are folks who have an audience that reacts – usually  positively (and often profitably) – to the endorsement or reviews posted by the influencer.  Some may say I am both. But, if I have to pick one- I would love to be known as a content creator.  I think developing fun and meaningful messaging on social media posts for my own or another’s brand leaves far more a lasting impression than endorsing product after product after product. My favorite is when you can meld the two together- such as working for a brand that wants you to promote a social good / philanthropic agenda.  Or if the brand has an interesting story to tell – that is heart- wrenching, inspirational, or teaches a life lesson. Plus, posting on your own social media platforms images or video that you have created, is for a person like me, an enormous amount of fun!

Photos taken in unique places are often my favorite backgrounds for posts with quotes.

 

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 Photo from Waimea, Hawaii. December 2016. Photo by Louise Sattler

 

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Waikiki Beach, Hawaii 2016  Photo: Louise Sattler

 

I also like to create posts that promote education and travel together

 

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Skagway, Alaska (near the Canadian border) June 2018. Photo by Louise Sattler

 

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 Nara, Japan February 2018. Photo by Louise Sattler
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Kyoto Train Museum in Japan (February 2018)   Photo by L. Sattler

 

Sometimes you can forgo a quote because the objects in the photo are message enough

 

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Photo by Louise Sattler Paso Robles, California 2018

 

Or nature provides you the perfect composition and no words are needed

 

 

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California Sunset – 2016   Photo by Louise Sattler

 

 

 

Don’t forget that people make great social media photo posts, too!

Lastly, a photo for a social media post can include people! Some of my favorite photos are not the ones that are posed, but the candids of friends taking a photo of themselves as they live – “in the moment”.  Below is  Marlee Matlin and her interpreter, Jack  with Camryn Manheim (center) at the Nyle DiMarco Foundation party in Los Angeles in 2016. Just look at their joy!

 

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Marlee, Camryn and Jack … Photo by L. Sattler

Last thoughts…

Social media allows you an avenue for creativity to flow from your brain to the world wide web! I would be remiss if I didn’t conclude this post with a few cautionary tales…

  1. Be sure you have permission to post photos of people.  Especially those who are not adults, but minors.  It is just common courtesy to skip posting a photo with people who happen to be in the background without their permission. At the very least, blur their faces. Portrait mode on a camera can help focus on the subject matter or people you wish to capture and not ancillary folks!
  2. Limit the selfies!  Enough said.
  3. Every moment doesn’t need to be photographed. Nor does it need to be to shared on social media. Especially each and every milestone of your life or that of your child’s.
  4. Put your name on photos that you care about or have them watermarked.  I had the misfortune of having my photos “hijacked” by another social media poster. UGH
  5. Give credit to photos that you use from others. So, if you have a photographer helping you at an event and use their photos- credit them! If you use stock photos- acknowledge that, as well.
  6. You don’t need a fancy camera – although that helps. I use either my OLD Nikon 60 or my iPhone.  Once in a while I will grab my Samsung phone/ NOTE because the camera is so amazing!
  7. Simply enjoy the creative process. I may not be a “top photographer”, but I enjoy photography and am hoping others enjoy my efforts.

 

A few more to close out this post…

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Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California 2015 . L Sattler.

 

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Scenes from San Pedro, CA – all photos by L. Sattler

 

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3.pngThis post dedicated to my dear friends, Sue and Bob, who over dinner last week complimented my travel photography .  Thanks for the encouragement, laughter and sharing the baklava!

Home. Sweet. Home. For. Bayla. But. Not. For._______.

IMG_5085Bayla is our dog that we adopted from a Southern California rescue a little more than three years ago. She is goofy, loving and oh- an immigrant.  You see, Bayla was brought IN to the United States as a pregnant pup from Tijuana, Mexico.  Immediately upon her arrival she was offered a home, food and free medical care at a modest rescue facility where her life was far better there than her days on the streets.  She was frightened, hungry and timid – at first. And, she was almost ready to deliver her puppies. In fact, Bayla delivered her puppies only a week or so after her arrival and was able to stay with all EIGHT puppies until they were weaned and adopted out to their loving and vetted fur-ever homes.  Never was this “parent and pups”  separated or were any of the dogs placed in “canine jail” for their non-documented status.  (See four of the eight of their precious faces below!)

 

Yes, Bayla was afforded better living conditions, care and concern than that given to many humans who currently are seeking a safe life, including asylum, in  the United States.  Bayla was given a ” home sweet home” as an immigrant. She was rescued from a less than ideal life on the streets and given a permanent home where she has survived and thrived.  In fact, there are scores of  dogs every day who come in to this country as “immigrants” and are allowed to live safely in towns across America.

Some of you may be thinking that my use of Bayla’s story as a parallel to the current and much more serious situation of immigrants being separated from their families is rubbish… let me continue.

First, while in no means do I think that the circumstances surrounding my dog and those of  humans are interchangeable  –  I do find it horrific that my dog received better care and respect than many of the families who in the past few months have  tried  to “survive and thrive” by entering the United States from Mexico, Central America and South America.  Instead they were detained and maltreated at the US- Mexico border.  Additionally, many of the families were separated with parents not knowing the whereabouts of their children.  From babies to teens, parents and children have been torn from each other’s arms. Included in these heinous acts are families that have children with special needs, such as Down syndrome and Deafness.

I have listened to many  interviews of individuals who recently were detained at the border. I listened to their accounts in both Spanish and English – so I could get the true essence of their emotion vs. through the voice of an interpreter. I was so saddened by  their stories’ of harrowing travels. Their recounting of narrow escapes from terror sent chills up and down my spine. Gang threats, physical harm, starvation, etc. were mentioned over and over and over again.  At no time did I doubt these stories or believe they were fabricated. Nor did I think – “Geez that person should be turned back and learn to just “deal” with the gangs, poor living conditions, lack of opportunity or the extreme poverty that made them risk everything to come here.”

One mother said when placed in detention she had fallen asleep with her child and when she awoke her child was gone from her. Gone. No one bothered to even wake up this mother?

I have been haunted by the wailing cries of this mother. Since hearing these first-hand stories my emotions have vacillated between crying, outrage and sheer anger.

As a parent, educator and a citizen of a country that allowed my ancestors to call the United States of America  home sweet home –  I cannot fathom how  families separated from their loved ones are enduring. I just hope and pray that all of them will be welcomed in to our country with a huge amount of compassion, caring, respect and concern. If Bayla can be treated with dignity and love upon her arrival then surely we can muster that amount and much more for all humans.

I welcome respectful commentary.

 

 

You never know who you will meet on a cruise.

I recently wrote about our family cruise to Alaska.   It was an amazing experience to share the breathtaking sites and sounds of Alaska with the loves of my life- my husband, daughter and son.

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We are what people may call a “social” family.   We make friends of strangers easily.  And when it comes to long cruises – we make lots of friends.  So, it will come to no surprise that we met some very interesting people with extraordinary stories aboard our ship. And, they were our amazing Princess Cruise ship staff.

About our cruise staff

The one thing I must admit is that the Princess Cruise line is staffed with some of the friendliest people I have ever met. From across the globe their hardworking employees make the guests feel special and interfacing with them on a daily basis is a pleasure.

So, please allow me to give a few shout-outs to some of the outstanding staff that made our journey through Alaska phenomena.

Cheers to the Recreation Crew!

From fun games of bingo to trivia and even playing with potential Iditerod sled dogs, Clair, Gambal and Monica were amazing.  Claire hailed from England and Monica from South America.  Despite being onboard for extended periods of time and far from home their exuberance and  humor kept us laughing all cruise long. Plus who doesn’t like a balloon drop during the last night event!

 

And, the waitstaff deserves kudos, too!

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Our steward, Luis was as kind as you could be. And, the waitstaff was attentive and experienced with fine-dining practices. But, it was the two friends and waiters from the Island Princess Explorer’s Lounge that caught our attention thanks to their unending smiles.  One who I will call “H’ is a body double for John Legend. (Judge for yourself in the photo.). His friend is up and coming musical talent, Sabikey.  You can listen to his reggae soul beats at  Soundcloud here. 

 

He also has a video with a sample of his latest track.  I am pretty sure Sabikey has the kind of  talent that will get noticed – and soon. There is bound to be an agent or music promoter who is a passenger on one of the cruise trips!

 

Lastly, there has to be made mention of the Princess Cruise ship’s captain and his crew that kept us on course and safe. At no time did we feel that the security measures were lax. In fact, we found that they were quite vigilant with personal safety and also health of the passengers.  I loved that they requested hand washing before each meal and also provided tons of antibacterial soap and reminders that if you were at all sick to report it to the medical staff.

Thanks, Princess Cruises and The Travel Store for our fun on the Alaskan seas!

Read previous blogs about Alaska:

Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

Hello Alaska! (Part 3 of “How we made a loser year end like a winner with trips to Hawaii and Alaska”)

 

p.s. I am not a brand ambassador of Princess Cruises or anyone mentioned in this blog. I simply am a happy traveler who likes to write!

 

A Visit to One of the Last Remaining Blockbuster Stores

Update: Sadly after I ran this article the last remaining Blockbusters in Alaska announced they were closing.

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Original Article

This month my family ventured to the Pacific Northwest. We watched whales frolic and feed, walked glaciers and even explored villages and remote areas both by land and sea.  But, it was a little store in Anchorage that was deemed the “highlight” of our 12 – day excursion.  Yes, apparently one can relive their childhood by simply walking through the doors of one of the last remaining Blockbuster video stores in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska.

This Blockbuster store is under the management of Kevin Daymude.  “Blockbuster” as a corporation is long gone, due to the change of the video landscape.  Replaced by streaming services, such as Netflix, the demand for video and gaming rentals has dwindled to nearly “zip”.  However, in this part of the world, Blockbuster still holds relevance.  New and “antique” videos and games adorn the shelves and there is the requisite aisle of theater sized boxed candies. You can purchase older videos for under a dollar and don’t forget the popcorn and cotton candy!  The only “addition” to the Blockbuster of 20 years ago was a prominent display of movie memorabilia in the very front of the store, including some “goods” obtained from actor, Russell Crowe.

HUH?

There is a very interesting story about how Blockbuster of Anchorage and Kevin Daymude received Russell Crowe’s items from the actor’s “ART OF DIVORCE SALE”.  It would appear that the items were received via an intermediary who acted as a conduit for this Blockbuster store to receive these “treasures of cinematic history”.  Among the memorabilia were two director chairs from the movie American Gangster that were used and embroidered with the actors’ names – Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Plus, there was from Russell Crowe’s collection a  “jockstrap” that was placed in the display (and reportedly cost 7K!)

Who was the buyer of all these “artifacts” and what was the backstory? Well,  the person who purchased many of Crowe’s items would be none other than HBO talk show host, John Oliver. The reason why… well that is a whole other story. Let’s start with Oliver’s announcement via  Twitter from April 2018.

 

 And the reason why John Oliver bought these items?  I’ll let Time Magazine explain the “details” in THIS article.  


 

Why is this store still open while the vast majority have closed?  I had an opportunity to chat with Kevin  about the remaining Blockbuster stores in Alaska (and one in Oregon) and get more insight.   (There are two videos for easier uploading.)

 

 

 

 

 


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Lastly, if you do visit the DeBarr Rd. location of Blockbuster know that there are shirts and pullovers available for purchase.  My entire family bought one – how could we not!?! Plus, we walked out with a handful of those repurposed DVDs for 99 cents each!

 

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Traveling the Pacific Northwest: Alaska!

This is part two of a series on traveling the Pacific Northwest.  Part one may be found here.

 

“Wherever there were glaciers, the world was in a constant state of                        creation.”
John Muir, Wilderness Essays

 

First Stop: Icy Strait Point/ Hoonah

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Hoonah is located on Chichagof Island, less than 40 miles from Juneau. While once known for the canning of salmon,  only since 2004 has the town of Hoonah been known as a cruise destination.  The construction of an elaborate and “official” pier and tourist center known as Icy Strait Point has turned this fishing / canning port in to a great location for travelers to explore.

We were welcomed at the entry to “Icy Strait” by a group of teens singing and playing their ancestral instruments. (Little did I know that these teens comprised the majority of the high school students who remained in Hoonah for their education.)

HICCUP #1: WE NEEDED A PLAN B

One thing a person learns when visiting remote areas, even in the United States, is to be flexible with your plans.  Case in point – the  tour jeep company oversold their excursions so instead of a guided tour throughout the Hoonah area, we took our backpacks and hiked sans tour guide.   Getting to the town “center” was easy as the hike was only 1.5 miles over flat paved terrain. (Note: Bikes, strollers and wheelchairs could make this trek without problems as there are sidewalks and paths.)

Our initial stop on this impromptu hike resulted in us stumbling upon a small restaurant/ bar. The  Office Bar   is a lot like the infamous (albeit fictitious) pub, CHEERS – as you enter a stranger and leave with everyone “knowing your name”.    Jess, one of the bartenders,  was a fountain of information and on the “ready” to pour your beer and tell stories about the history and people of Hoonah.  Ask about snow accumulation and she will show you the “family album” of local residents helping each other during snowstorms and more. When you have had your fill of beer and peanuts, head on down a few more blocks to try local fare. Fish is the menu favorite and the Fisherman’s Daughter  is a fun little place with outside seating that attracts both local families and tourists.  When you leave this restaurant turn left and walk about two more blocks. There you will find the bald eagle’s nest across from the school.  There also is a totem pole demonstration.

Best of all…  whales grace the Icy Strait region in late May and June.  While we were at Hoonah we watched more than eight whales swim and feed right in front of us.  There is no mistaking that whales are a force to ‘reckon with.”  I held my breath, as a whale watching boat seemed drifted within a 50 meters of a pod of whales. But, all were safe! Below is a video of the whales eating from the strait gobs of fish! Apparently, one “lead” whale will catch in his/her mouth enough food to supply to the others in the pod.  The tell tale sign that they are involved in this activity is the “bubbling” that happens on the surface.   When you watch the video below look carefully for the bubbling formation in the water followed by four whales coming to the surface in almost perfect unison.

 

More about Hoonah and culture… 

The culture of Hoonah fascinated me.  The town is around 700 people and the depths of their pride is immeasurable.   Children are educated about their heritage by locals and their formal education occurs in the local public school until the 9th grade. Then they can opt to remain in Hoonah or go to high school school in Juneau. (Interesting fact: The graduating class of 2018 from Hoonah was nine students.)

Hoonah is a remote area and to access it means you either arrive by plane, helicopter or boat.  There are no roads that connect this village to another town across Alaska, including Juneau.  To view a map of the area click here. 

Hoonah residents are proud of their heritage and what the legacy they have built.  I thoroughly enjoyed our time and the gracious hospitality of all we met.  If you have an opportunity to visit – do it!

Related information: Princess Cruises

Juneau – The Land of Glaciers

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TAKU GLACIER

Do you remember the show “Northern Exposure”?  I swear it is about Juneau, Alaska.   Juneau is a small town with lots to offer and if you are like me, you will fall in love with it!  Cut off from other parts of Alaska, you can only access Alaska’s capitol by sea or air but there are a lot more amenities in Juneau than “nearby” Hoonah.

Juneau, perhaps, could best be described as quaint and mighty at the same time.  There are quaint small shops and restaurants, but then you have the mighty glaciers nearby.  Mendenhall Glacier is the closest and most famous of those available for viewing by tourists.  Our family ventured on a helicopter and went to Taku, a glacier that took about a  15 minute helicopter ride from downtown Juneau.  Kudos to Coastal Helicopters  for this educational experience, but first and foremost keeping us safe!    Our helicopter tour found us soaring high above the glacier field and parkland.  Nothing can quite describe what it feels like to view glaciers from above and then walk on one. We drank clear and clean “glacier water” and took a ton of photos. Our helicopter operator was knowledgeable, humorous and most of all – experienced!

 

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Want to really experience a glacier? Visit by helicopter!
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The thickness of the trees makes for a striking view from the air. 

 

Special Note:  I wish I had studied more about glaciers and icebergs before I traveled to one. I think it would have made the experience much more enriching.   Also, for those less adventurous, consider the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

 

Stepping back in time with a trip to Skagway!

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Skagway reminds me of a movie set.  Nothing seems real because it all looks so perfect and as if time stopped 60 years ago.  I kept thinking that I was in the backlot of a movie studio – that is how clean and perfect it is! Our intent was to walk the town and then hop on the Skagway White Pass and Yukon Railroad.  Mother Nature had a different idea as a rockslide prevented us from being able to make that excursion, so our family resorted to “Plan B”.    The guys went on tour of the area via bus, while the “gals” hiked the village by foot.

A few notable highlights… 1) Go to the SKAGUAY NEWS DEPOT! It is charming and IMG_1495also reminds me how much I miss establishments that sell printed material! I had a lovely conversation with one of the salesclerks and she told me that Skagway has over two-thousand residents during the Summer.  However, when the snow flies, so do the cruise ships, and the town shrinks to a mere 900 or so.  When the winter becomes a deluge of snowstorms all comes to a halt. Like Juneau, Skagway is dependent on ships to bring goods or planes.  Newspapers are flown in daily except during the winter months.

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2) Sweet Treats  is one of those stores that you walk in because it just smells so yummy!  But, once you clear the doorway you realize that you are on sensory overload!  Decorations from Mexico cascade down from the ceiling alongside Japanese lanterns and other “party decorations”.  I was curious if there was a “theme” to this place and was told, “It is meant to be colorful.”  My friends at Sweat Treats – you succeeded!

3) Be sure to visit the White Pass train depot.  Even though we couldn’t travel by train to visit the Yukon due to the rock slide, the depot itself was worth a visit! (Note: Railroad crews were working very hard to remove the rock and check the train track for any issues. They were hoping to open the White Pass railroad for business very soon.  Get updates here via their email.

 

GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK

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There are not enough words in the universe to describe the majestic beauty of the Glacier Bay National Park.  I awoke early to grab a “front row” seat on the cruise ship and photograph every glacier, iceberg, mountain goat, etc. that I could see!  What I learned from the park ranger who gave the passengers a very nice description and running commentary about Glacier Bay, was that we need to do MUCH BETTER in taking care of our environment.  The glaciers are receding at alarming rates and perhaps global warming is to blame.  If you do only ONE THING on a trip to Alaska – please see up close glaciers and icebergs.  And, if you are on a cruise, please don’t make references to the Titanic or sing the theme song from the movie.

Related; Here is a link to help learn more about the wonders of Glacier Bay.

And, this link will bring you to some terrific footage taken by photographers and videographers.

Below find my video of the ice pulling away from the glacier. There is a sound, similar to the rumble of thunder, right before the tumbling of ice and rock occurs.  I am certain that I didn’t try

 

BLUE ICE?

There is a phenomenon with glaciers that is called “caving”. That is when the ice starts to separate and fall in to the water below.  It is fascinating to watch.  The glaciers, by the way, often have a blue hue. Read here for an explanation about why this happens.

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FINAL CRUISE DESTINATION- WHITTIER

Our last stop was the small coastal village of Whittier, Alaska.  We arrive at midnight and there was still enough light to see across the region.  I was amazed that this part of Alaska truly gets nearly 20 hours (or more) of light during late Spring/ Summer.

Here is a photo I snapped about 12:15 a.m. from our cruise ship of the small village of Whittier. This photo is unfiltered / unretouched. Shot with an iPhone 8 Plus.

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LAST THOUGHTS and SOME RECOMMENDATIONS….

On a scale of 1-10, I would rate seeing Alaska by cruise a solid 8.  There were a few hiccups that impacted our cruise, but, overall the experience was very, very good!

Here are a few quick recommendations:

  1. Do read up about glaciers, fjords and the history of the region you are visiting in Alaska.  I wish I had and I couldn’t really “google” from the ship as we didn’t have an internet package.
  2. Prepare for rain and mud.  We were REALLY LUCKY to have had great weather for the majority of the cruise, but it could easily have been foul weather.  BOOTS are a necessity 12 months a year!
  3. Bring sunblock, bug spray/ ointment and moisturizer as you can get a lot of sun, bugs or dry air in this regions.
  4. Have a very reliable camera/ cell-phone and protect it from wet weather and breakage with sturdy cases.
  5. Be sure to take photos of important documents and your cruiseline card, in case of theft or loss.
  6. Consider tacking on a land adventure – such as visiting Denali National Park, Seward or Anchorage.
  7. Don’t sit in your cabin or stay on the ship. Go and explore, take excursions and make memories!
  8. I used a travel agent and highly recommend doing so.  Linda Kahn – Ferrell of the Travel Store in Malaga Cove was excellent! 

 

Coming soon from this blog:

  • We found the last of the Blockbuster Stores – In Anchorage, Alaska!
  • It Takes a Village to Make a Cruise Successful!